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Low cost PJ bass: BB234 vs Ibanez Mezzo vs ??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by skycruiser, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. skycruiser


    Jan 15, 2019
    I'm considering picking up a low cost bass (~$300 range), prefer a PJ setup based on a lot of reading on TB and elsewhere. Currently I only have a short scale acoustic but have decided it's not flexible enough to play with other people. Looking for something that can cover a range of playing styles - basically that can fit into whatever comes my way. For now it will be used with my old Acoustic B100 amp.

    I was able to try out the Mezzo at a local GC. I don't mind the shorter scale but I'm not sure if going active is the best way to go for a cheap bass. I also like the looks of the Yamaha BB234 but don't have access to one to try out. I prefer a Jazz type neck to the Precision and I've ready that the BB234 is somewhat in between so will probably be comfortable enough. But I was wondering if anyone had compared these two basses.

    Also open to suggestions on a lower end PJ bass. I should say I also like the sound and feel of a Squire Jazz that is a little more expensive than these (I think the Classic Vibe version) but I don't know enough about the different pick-up configurations to know if the Jazz has the flexibility of the PJ. I also have spent some time playing Mustangs ($500) but I really have trouble getting a good sound out of them. Maybe 30" is too short for me.

    I really find it's hard to compare basses in guitar stores. Probably need to spend a LOT more time playing them to get a really good feel for the differences. Thanks for any help or recommendations on this.
  2. Bass Man Dan

    Bass Man Dan Endorsing Artist: Ned Flanders' Bass-a-Reeno Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2017
    I rehearse with a BB235 that I leave at our drummer's house. That bass can seriously hang both sound-wise and playability-wise. It's a tad heavy and that is my only complaint. We play rock covers from Billy Joel to Greenday, the bass is versatile.

    I gig with a German Warwick Corvette, Sire P7, Sterling HH, and Maruzsczyk Jake and if they were all gone, I'd have no qualms gigging with the BB235. In my opinion it punches way above it's price tag.

    If the BB234 looks good to you, I'd be willing to bet you'd be really happy with it.
    skycruiser likes this.
  3. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
  4. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    You might want to try out the Ibanez Talman TMB 310 or 300...1 5/8-inch nut width with a vintage feeling C profile. Photo-Collage-20190903-192138423.jpg
    Mechanical, EmuBass and skycruiser like this.
  5. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    A used Soundgear 400 or 500 level pj would be in that range. I liked the Mezzo a lot. I’m 6’4” with huge hands so it wasn’t the bass for me but the
    Sound and playability was sweet.
    skycruiser and canuckshort like this.
  6. skycruiser


    Jan 15, 2019
    Thanks for all the replies. This is helpful. Looks like there are no BB234's in the area so if I go that route it will be without trying one at all. I should be able to find the Talman in local stores so I'll check that out as well. I really don't like the style of the headstock though, but the rest of it looks good.
    jd56hawk likes this.
  7. skycruiser


    Jan 15, 2019
    As I read and watch more reviews on the Yamaha BB basses, starting to think that if I go for the Yamaha I should put in a couple hundred more for the BB434. I probably won't buy another bass for a long time and I think it might pay off in the long run to go for the better model. I really like the thru-body strings on the 434, though I don't know how much difference the upgraded pickups will make. Seems like only a direct comparison will make that clear (or just trust that the engineers got it right and the pickups will have a better sound).
    4sight likes this.
  8. canuckshort

    canuckshort Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2011
    I own the Mezzo. I love it. I have nylon tapes on it and it sounds beautiful.
    skycruiser likes this.
  9. Can't go wrong with any of the Yamaha BBs IMO :thumbsup:
    Bass Man Dan and skycruiser like this.
  10. skycruiser


    Jan 15, 2019
    Quick follow-up - I decided to go for the BB434 Sunburst. Should ship on Monday, might have it by the end of the week. I have read positive and negative comments on this bass, but the plus side seemed far outweigh the down side. Stepping up to the 400 series will hopefully keep me satisfied with only this one electric bass for awhile.
  11. skycruiser: so how do (did?) you like the BB434? the only thing I did not like when I played it in a music store was the different coloured 5 ply neck. The back of the neck looks like it has railroad tracks all along it. Other than that I thought it was an excellent, high quality bass....easy to play and sounded very good.
  12. hypercarrots


    Jan 28, 2009
    los angeles
    buy a used ibanez sr800
  13. skycruiser


    Jan 15, 2019
    Here are my thoughts about the BB434 after about 3 months. Keep in mind a few things that affect my ability to review the instrument. 1. I haven't owned or played a bass in over 20 years and that experience was pretty limited. 2. My amp isn't great (Acoustic B100) so I'm not sure if I can give an accurate description of tone. 3. I'm really learning to play so I can't put the instrument through its paces like a seasoned player.

    There are a lot of things I like about it. First off the construction and finish are very good. The only issue I've noticed is that some of the pick-guard screws look like they aren't in straight. I haven't tried to take them off to be sure but they look a little cocked. Otherwise it's a very solid build, knobs turn smoothly, tuners hold tuning for a long time etc. I really like the neck, both the finish and profile. No problems with the fret ends though I don't know how to assess flatness. I have not had a setup done and I think the action could be lowered quite a bit but it isn't really bothering me too much yet. There are some minor intonation issues up high on the fretboard but I think that could be fixed or at least improved with a proper setup. There are also some "dead spots" around A through C on the G string - severe enough to lose tracking on my octave pedal.

    My main negatives are related to the tone adjustment. Keep in mind that I don't even know what a "good" P tone should sound like coming out of my amp so I'm not able to judge the quality of the P tone. I am happy with the P tone alone but almost always put in at least 50% of the J to round it off. The J alone doesn't sound all that useable to me. First off, you have the single-coil hiss so I almost never crank the J up all the way. Above about 80% it is a little too noticeable (but it can be subdued with the tone control). Some day down the road I might swap in a noiseless J but I really don't need to right now. Also I don't really get a good range of tone control out of the tone knob. Cranking it down from full-on, by about 25% of the way down I stop really hearing any change in the tone. I more or less understand how the control works (simple passive RC filter with an adjustable R) so I don't know if this is normal or if it has the wrong type of pot taper. I just expected more variation in tone control over the full range of the knob, but as I said I have little experience so I can't say for sure if this is different from other passive basses. I can't imagine the designers at Yamaha would have gone with the wrong taper, so maybe this is normal.

    But even limiting the pickup controls to no more than 75% or so on the J, I can get a reasonable array of tones that I'm happy with. As I said above, I have little experience so I don't know what tones I need exactly. A couple of months ago I spent a little time at GC trying out different amps and while I didn't spend enough time to work out all the differences, I did prefer the tone from the Ampeg and Peavey amps over Fender and Acoustic. So I do see a new amp in my future, possibly a new pickup. But for now it is great for the things I'm working on in my solitary practice.

    Here are a few threads I started with questions related to my BB434:
    Does this schematic approximate volume control?
    Is J pickup noise normal on PJ bass?
    poor tracking and dead spots

    Hope this helps. Sorry I can't really give a good comparative review!

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